Why? December 16, 2012

Trigger Warning for discussion of Sandy Hook Elementary shootings


I guess that’s what everyone’s wondering in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings this week. Why did this happen? Could we have prevented it? How can we stop it from happening again?

As an activist, I turn my eyes to social structures, to laws, to ideologies of domination. I think of words from Martin Luther King Jr., from so many years ago, that apply still today: “we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

Because we still live in a world where some people are taught that they are better than others.

We still live in a world where random, senseless acts of violence occur, and where people are all but handed the tools to commit these acts.

We still live in a world where it’s almost heroic to kill children overseas with our drone strikes in order to prove that America is the “greatest country on earth.”

Why? In the context of our culture of domination and violence, what does this single event mean? And what can we do about it? I’m not writing this to answer those questions. I’m writing this because I’m lost and I don’t know and I’m desperately asking…


As a self-identified Christian, I turn to God.

Other Christians don’t have to ask why. They don’t have to ask why because their God is a monster, and somehow they’ve made peace with that. Or at least they pretend to, leaping at the opportunity to post pictures on Facebook declaring their faith in a petty, spiteful, evil being who, all because of the separation of church and state,  would leave 20 children and 6 teachers to die.

I don't know the actually image source, so for now I'm just going to guess--"Image via An Asshole"
I don’t know the actual image source, so for now I’m just going to guess–“Image via An Asshole”

Even several Christian leaders seem to worship this God of Hate. Bryan Fischer’s answer to why is, “God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman.”

What gentleman has the power to save 26 people from death and just stands by and watches?


John Piper has already told us that it is right for his God of Hate to “slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.” His God doesn’t just stand back and allow evil to happen in order to get revenge over Engel v. Vitale. His God plays an active role in the killing. His God guides the hand of the shooter. His God was sending us a “warning…to see our souls as depraved.” 

And I wonder, who is going to send God a warning? How can we show this Monster of a God how depraved it’s own soul is?


Why do we see this God as good? Why do we not hold this God to nearly universal standards of decency that we Christians like to claim come from God? Why do we worship a monster like that?

I try to drown out the voices of so many prominent Christians whose God is a God of Hate that kills children to prove a shallow point. I try to believe in a God of Love despite the fact that I’m being told that the God of Love isn’t really the Christian God. That evil can be called “love” as long as God does it.

But no matter how successful I am in drowning out those voices, I can’t escape the Why.

So, I won’t try. I’m asking why.

Maybe some of my “why”s will  have answers that will let me join others and work toward change.

Maybe some of my “why”s will simply dissolve as we do this work, only to emerge when the next tragedy strikes.

I don’t know. My thoughts are scrambled and every time I try to gather them I find myself frustrated to tears. For now I’m done trying to give answers. For now I’m just asking. Sometimes it’s okay to just ask for awhile.

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